Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feelings, or why my bio says Geek☯spiritual

Geek is the yang, my relationship to hard science and a logical approach to knowledge and beliefs. It also represents my history, and my fascination with technology (I'm a programmer by both hobby and trade). Pretty straight-forward hopefully.

Spiritual is the yin, my subjective experience of the universe by a conscious brain; deep, profound and personally meaningful - but above all emotional. There is NO 'Woo' here (see link for why personal experience does not equal ontological truth), it is a mix of emotions and an attitude and approach to life that I cannot find a better word for. It is the feeling you get when you are in the middle of the desert, in almost total darkness and the sky is filled with stars; it is beauty; it is wonderment; and it is what drives my Geek side to know more.

Feelings are important

Feelings drive our sense of empathy, our experience of pain, happiness, anger, outrage, love, and all the other spectrum of emotional responses a normal human experiences. These feelings form the absolute core of our sense of human morality and therefore they are critically important -- and yet, we are not really in control of our emotions (and only slightly more in control of our responses to emotions). So I think it's important to think about and consider our emotional health and how it is formed and affected by our experiences.

To that point: physically and emotionally abused children do not have the benefit of a healthy and 'normal' emotional system and this causes them, and the human race, endless problems. This is something we have to get our heads around and address (ending child abuse).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Agnosticism revisited (blog response)

Why Agnosticism Is Not An Option In Our Time | Indian Atheists

My response to the above blog entry:

You seem to be only arguing against some weakly, non-intellectual usage of the term agnosticism which has been misappropriated. So you aren't arguing against Agnosticism (the noun) but being agnostic (the poorly conceived, more modern adjective).

As Michael Martin writes in "Atheism: A Philosophical Justification":

Putting aside the current popular sense of the term, "Agnosticism" was coined by T. H. Huxley in 1869. According to Huxley, "Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle. Positively the principle may be expressed as, in matters of intellect, follow your reason as far as it can carry you without other considerations. And negatively, in matters of the intellect, do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable. It is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty."
[see also my blog: http://iconoclasm2000.blogspot.com/2010/12/on-agnosticism.html ]

Do you have a problem with valuing reason?

Do you have a problem with demanding evidence in support of a proposition?

Those are the two foundational, POSITIVE beliefs that make up Agnosticism. ANY other claims made by an Agnostic should flow from those two positions.

On the other hand, Positive Atheism asserts that there ARE NO gods, period. Which is a position that Agnostics would reject because #1 we don't have a valid definition for "gods" we can agree on and #2 we do not have evidence that there are NONE of those things. Assuming 'god' is, at a minimum something that existed prior to our universe and was, in some fashion, responsible for the creation of it we can't really know what that means. And if someone tries to assert AGENCY as a property of that thing then I would smack them down because they have no reason or evidence to claim such a thing (so-called cosmological arguments (including Kalam) are a complete mental masturbation that neither prove nor demonstrates anything about the actual universe).

But most Atheists these days only claim, that they don't believe in a god and a few more strongly assert that it seems unlikely gods actually exist at all. Those are fine positions to hold, the second one isn't demonstrated but is not an unreasonable working assumption (as you argue in your paper). But, that's new atheism -- Agnosticism was founded during a time when Atheists asserted that they essentially knew for a fact there were no gods and Huxley felt that our ability to know things is fairly sketchy epistemologically speaking.

As an Agnostic I am PERFECTLY willing to say that the Christian religion is BULLSHIT, it is a fraud and a sham. There is EVIDENCE to support this and absolutely NO evidence to support their claims. I see no evidence Islam is any better off although I admit that I have not studied it nearly as in depth but to the point that it draws from Judaism and Christianity before it it is equally a fraud.

But the question of how the universe came into existence is unknown by either science or any human. It IS a reasonable working assumption that this is a subject we can investigate and come to understand but it's also possible that this is a truly unknowable question because there are hints that it lies across physical boundaries that sufficient information cannot cross for us to make informed decisions.

That doesn't mean that I accept anyones claims about a specific god that they claim to magically know the mind of. It doesn't mean that I accept all claims as True by default (exactly the opposite).

So I would like to know exactly who's version of 'Agnosticism' you are arguing against because your point seems to be a bit of a strawman.

Your subject is "Why Agnosticism Is Not An Option" and then you don't even define what you mean by Agnosticism and you really never even mention it -- you just make points about how we live longer and know more now.

If the title was "Why modern religions are a complete sham" your arguments would be more on point.

To sum up -- I'm an Agnostic because I:
#1 value reason
#2 value evidence or demonstrations of claims
#3 believe that our ability to know truth is very weak epistemologically speaking, but falsification is on much sounder grounds

Those with a keen wit will probably see that this aligns very strongly with the scientific method.

And finally -- I don't like the idea of forming my position as only being in opposition to some other position. I do NOT grant the Theists the default position and stand in opposition to it.

And that's why I identify as Huxley-Agnostic and not Atheist (although I still speak out very strongly against religions and superstitious beliefs). But Atheists don't make me uncomfortable EXCEPT when they try to redefine Agnosticism :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Science is under attack by dishonest quacks

Robert Lanza, M.D.: Why You Will Always Exist: Time Is 'On Demand'

Science is clearly under attack here -- this kind of dishonest filth has to be brought under control somehow. Lanza should be ASHAMED of himself for publishing this nonsense but I suspect he is laughing all the way to the bank. Stupid is winning.

Physicists do not mean the same thing by Observation as this guy is implying here. They mean that a 'measurement' is taken which necessarily interacts with the particle being measured (e.g., a Photon has to be absorbed and re-emitted by an Electron to "Observe" it). Usually in very exacting and precise ways.

There is simply no evidence that that consciousness is involved (wishful statements, even by respected scientists, are NOT theory). This is nothing but a bunch of Woo. Or Cite an accepted, peer-reviewed paper that demonstrates consciousness is required for wave collapse. Not much is yet known about the intricate details causing wave function collapse or if it even happens (e.g., de Broglie–Bohm's ideas). This is a huge fact checking failure.

These are basic facts you can learn by spending 10 minutes on Google and evaluating the data with a critical eye. It's not like we're digging down into the actual equations here.

So why is it that a supposed MD apparently cannot be bothered to at least Google this? Or maybe ask an actual physicist? And why is the public lapping up this drivel instead of laughing this guy off the internet and out of publishing? Please, stop spending your hard earned money on nonsense.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Once a child has been indoctrinated into a religion, their eventual deconversion is usually the result of some combination of:

#1 studying the whole bible, including the horrible things like the slaughter of infants on gods order (joshua 6), genocides, infanticides, etc. There are so many disgusting justifications that it requires supernatural credulity to swallow it. Only a desperate or indoctrinated mind will do so.

For some perspective on this (assuming you are Christian) think about how you feel towards the claims about the Qur'an (or writings about Zeus, etc). I feel *exactly* the way about your claims about your bible.

#2 an intensive study of modern sciences (history, physics, cosmology, biology, chemistry, etc) and a comparison of the depth and details of scientific knowledge verses the extremely sketchy and often erroneous accounts in the bible. It is clear that the authors of the Bible knew absolutely nothing more than would have been expected from their respective time periods. Do NOT fall into the trap of thinking ancient people stupid, they lacked certain tools and knowledge that we build upon today but many of them were extremely intelligent even if they were limited by their cultures. Also, don't fall into the trap of believing "All Ancient People Thought X" because that is just as false about ancient people as it is about people today. Not all ancient people believed the earth was flat, many understood very well that it was round and had even given a very good estimate for the circumference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes circa 240 BCE) and they had made extremely detailed observations of the sky for centuries.

#3 a comparative study of religions including the some 3000 different sects of "christian" beliefs (if even the most devout "Christians" cannot agree on key doctrines like transubstantiation, then what validity is there in the bible?)

#4 the flat out errors, insane claims, and conflicting stories that require extensive apologist justifications to prevent the more critical from outright revolt.

#5 studying the history of Christianity and how utterly evil and corrupted the entire church was for a 1500+ years of being in power. Yuck

#6 complete lack of contemporaneous, eye-witness evidence for Jesus. Not even the "gospels" are eye-witness accounts, nor were they written in the time of Jesus but some 30 years later. Nor are any of the outrageous claims of events documented by any historians (e.g., the claimed multitude of Saints rising from the dead).

#7 the complete failure of prayer, 1 Kings 18, and other specific claims of the bible

From a purely intellectual/logical view I cannot understand how sane, rational, and reasonably well-educated persons can look at the facts and not reject the claims of Christianity (Although I do understand it from an evolutionary, sociological, cultural and psychological standpoint).

I can kind of understand the feeling that there is some kind of "god" in a deistic or pantheistic sense, but such claims are ultimately not justifiable because they cannot be distinguished from the null hypothesis.

Evolution: Eye

How Can the Eye Have Evolved?

A look at a common Christian lie and the falsehood of irreducible complexity.

Quit being so gay!

This is in response to this video on Think Atheist: http://bit.ly/icTg8g

Right off the bat they make a classic argument from ignorance (how did you get here, very ignorant question given current levels of scientific understandings of physics, chemistry, abiogenesis and evolution) and they fail to discuss these very well-known scientific answers so they are flat out lying to people.

They then go to the Special Pleading for God because the universe couldn't have come from nothing (but God apparently can).

"No basis for right or wrong" is an unsupported position. We clearly do and since they cannot claim any knowledge coming from an actual "god" this is not a valid argument.

Cancer risk has NOTHING to do with being gay (correlation is not causation). Not all gay people engage in anal intercourse and many straight people do. Furthermore, it has more to do with viral and bacterial risks (ever heard of a condom?)

And it completely IGNORES the heterosexual risk factors associated with biblically sanctioned sexual activity even between completely monogamous partners. In biblical times ANAL sex would have been VASTLY safer than vaginal sex due to risk of death due to pregnancy (it's not as bad now thanks to modern medicine but even today pregnancy carries some pretty serious risks to health).


As recently as 1910-20 in the USA the maternal mortality rate was ~900/100,000 pregnancies! Almost 1 in 1000 women DIED from biblically sanctioned sex. If God hates anal sex he must REALLY hate vaginal sex (and apparently blames Eve for everything).

[1011.3706] Concentric circles in WMAP data may provide evidence of violent pre-Big-Bang activity

Some early evidence that the Big Bang may not have been a 'creation' event. We have long tried to tell the 'believers' that Big Bang theory specifically does not cover the origin.

[1011.3706] Concentric circles in WMAP data may provide evidence of violent pre-Big-Bang activity

Creationist Claims Index for iOS

Creationists can now easily and portably refute their own faulty claims, saving us non-believers a lot of time.

Creationist Claims Index for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store

How empathy works, drawn by Jeremy Rifkin

How Empathy Works as drawn by Jeremy Rifkin.

The Faith-Based Militia: When is Terrorism ‘Christian’? | Politics | Religion Dispatches

The Faith-Based Militia: When is Terrorism ‘Christian’? | Politics | Religion Dispatches

BIBLE RIOTS: When Christians Killed Each Other Over Religion in Public Schools

BIBLE RIOTS: When Christians Killed Each Other Over Religion in Public Schools

Something that most people today seem to forget is the extreme levels that Catholic-Protestant sectarian violence reached. Not just here in the US but in different areas all over the world.

An Atheist Viewpoint: Creationists: Still Lying After All These Years.

An Atheist Viewpoint: Creationists: Still Lying After All These Years.

A very nice start on a list of Creationist frauds and lies.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What About God

Let me be really clear here, I don't have a problem with the CONCEPT of a 'god' existing (if a 'god' exists fine -- prove it without resorting to lies, frauds, etc), but I DEMAND proof of EVERYTHING I choose to believe in -- ESPECIALLY when those things have large or profound impacts on my life. And I live as good of a life as I can, the existence or non-existence of a god has no bearing on me. I'm not perfect by any stretch but neither are any Christians and I would say I'm better than most.

Arguments that say life is too complex to just happen because of the nature of 'physics' are ridiculous because they propose that some infinitely complex and powerful agency JUST exists. They just make the problem WORSE, not better [and yes, Kalam, blah blah blah -- mental masturbation and nothing more, you cannot prove reality through logic - the axioms you use in logic are based on our imperfect OBSERVATIONS of reality]. I do believe that with extremely CAREFUL application of the scientific method we can EEK out semi-reliable knowledge of our world. But it is absolutely fraught with pitfalls.

The history of the texts used in the bible show that they are absolutely frauds, there are NO eyewitness accounts and absolutely NO contemporaneous accounts. The Testimonium Flavianum entry on Jesus is fairly clearly fraudulent and even if it wasn't it was written FAR too late and doesn't claim first hand knowledge. Where are the entries by Historians on the THOUSANDS of "Saints" risen from the dead? ZILCH. It is a LIE, a fake, and a fraud. At BEST, some of these people had ecstatic experiences and with their limited goat-herding knowledge they believed them.

For example, there is a lot of evidence that Judas of Galilee existed during this time period -- and absolutely ZERO evidence that the Jesus/Yeshua character of the bible existed. Absolutely ZERO. And interestingly, many of the things attributed to Jesus are DOCUMENTED by historians to actions of Judas of Galilee.

The synoptic gospels are all written 30+ years AFTER the alleged time of Jesus, they are all anonymous and ONLY by tradition attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. NONE are eye-witness accounts. Paul NEVER met Jesus, only claimed he saw him in what was essentially a vision. The earliest quotations from what we now call Matthew and Mark are NOTHING like the modern texts. There are THOUSANDS of errors/differences in the different versions of copies we have. We have NOT A SINGLE original autograph of ANY biblical text. We have only copies of copies of copies of copies. Yeah they are kinda sorta, mostly similar -- but then there are HUGE issues in the gospel accounts. See this video for just a FEW examples: David Fitzgerald Skepticon 3 "Examining the Existence of a Historical Jesus" (youtube).

[even if the texts CLAIMED to be eyewitness accounts there is no evidence they actually are because of the dates written]

So textually, the bible is an absolute mess. And even the more honest of the hardcore biblical scholars ADMIT that the accounts of Jesus are clearly false.

"The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the kingdom of God, who founded the kingdom of heaven upon earth and died to give his work its final consecration never existed."
Albert Schweitzer(1875-1965, Nobel Prize 1952), Ph.D, Christian theologian and Dean of Theological College of Saint Thomas at the University of Strasburg
The Quest of the Historical Jesus: First Complete Edition, trans. W. Montgomery, et al., ed. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), page 478

And in some cases critical passages have clearly been added to the texts later (e.g., in 2 Peter).

And claims it has been faithfully transmitted? COME ON! There are THOUSANDS of Christian sects who disagree with each other over what the passages even mean. Which ONE of those THOUSANDS have it right in every regard? Even if one of them had the right of it there would be absolutely no way to know. They disagree on MAJOR issues -- do we have Free Will or not? How do you get to Heaven? Etc It's just utterly ridiculous to suppose anything has been faithfully transmitted.

And then we come to the actual history of the 'Christian' church itself. After 1800 years of slavery, abuse, torture, murder, selling of indulgences (and yes, I know what indulgences are), misogyny, prejudice, suppression of valid scientific knowledge that was viewed as in conflict with the claims of the church, utter destruction of native CULTURE after CULTURE after CULTURE after CULTURE after CULTURE after CULTURE after CULTURE after CULTURE... it is absolutely filthy and disgusting to me to even SUGGEST that these filthy, disgustingly evil BASTARDS have anything to do with God in any way, shape or form. And they were the SOLE arbiters of 'God' for 1500 years, until the Protestant reformation -- and do not be confused, that did NOT fix anything what-so-ever so don't tell me you follow some protestant branch and that makes everything ok -- it doesn't. Every dollar you give them is a dollar spent in hatred of mankind. They should be WIPED from the face of the earth forever (peacefully I hope -- I'm not an advocate of violence).

So all we're left with is a nice metaphor and a FEW little bits of clear thinking from the bronze age like "turn the other cheek" and "love thy neighbor" (things I almost NEVER see any christian practicing). And these FEW nice little bits are utterly washed out by all the absolutely VILE and DISGUSTING parts of the bible (god COMMANDS genocide after genocide after genocide after genocide, COMMANDS infanticide, COMMITS genocide and infanticide, etc) -- that is NO God that I wish to be associated with, it's disgusting, vile and evil nonsense. The bible says "By their fruit you will recognize them" and you have to be fucking blind not to see the evil fruits of the Christian religion.

Deut 7: When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them...nor shew mercy unto them

And for WHAT crime are the children to be put to death? Allegedly because their parents were committing child sacrifices -- do you fail to see the ignorance of this claim?

There are certainly many very GOOD people who just happen to have fallen for the Christian lies. They are lied to so I don't hold them directly responsible but their money certainly goes to support many agendas that I view as absolutely EVIL.

Whatever you might think about God the use of the Church to deny GOVERNMENT RIGHTS GRANTED EQUALLY TO ALL (e.g., gay marriage) is absolutely DISGUSTING.

For all those reasons (and more, as you see I have MANY thoughts on the Christian religion -- my position is NOT unconsidered) I will NEVER support any Christian church (maybe if Jesus or God comes and talks me into it and even they will have a difficult time). There are MOUNTAINS of evidence they are frauds, evil, liars, and corrupted. No. Thank. You.

I see no evidence for God in the general sense, other than it seems to make some people feel better to think that others will suffer in eternal torment for their sins while the person being comforted invariable will spend their eternity in heaven, DESPITE their own sins.

On the other hand... (and let me know if you cannot use Google and need citations for any of these, I will be happy to supply them but this is already very long)

  • There is LOTS of evidence that very complex chemistry happens, even in outer space!
  • There is LOTS of evidence that every chemical needed for life to "happen" (and I reject using the word "by chance" here unless you can demonstrate anything in the universe is truly Random -- things happen by laws of physics -- we don't understand those ultimate laws of physics and we may never fully understand them -- but we observe consistently that things happen according to rules and not by Will).
  • There is LOTS of evidence that these chemicals CAN hit a point where they being to self-replicate -- even WITHOUT the complex arrangement we have today.
  • There is LOTS of evidence that these self-replicating molecules will TEND towards self-replicating RNA and with the right proteins available RNA is converted into DNA
  • There is LOTS of evidence that these self-replicating RNA and DNA molecules CHANGE over time in various ways that explain ALL the variations we see today
  • There is LOTS of evidence that this happened only once on earth (the possible alternative is that it happened several times but in extremely similar ways)
  • There is LOTS of evidence that this CANNOT HAPPEN TODAY BECAUSE THE CHEMISTRY HAS BEEN UTTERLY CHANGED BY EARLIER LIFE -- well it could happen today but the changes are MUCH closer to zero than they were 4 billion years ago
  • There is LOTS of evidence that this process involved clay, geothermal vents, ice, lipid vesicles, etc
  • There is OBSERVED cases of a single-celled organism evolving multi-cellular forms -- OBSERVED, we SAW this happen
  • There is LOTS of evidence in DNA that things have evolved from form to form over billions of years
  • There is LOTS of evidence in fossils that MATCH the DNA evidence - the timelines MATCH, the types of mutations MATCH, the rate of mutation MATCHES

There is so much evidence for abiogenesis and evolution that it is almost inconceivable that the theory is incorrect. It is POSSIBLE that it is incorrect and MANY details are yet to be worked out, but I seriously question your credulity at believing these moronic ID/Creation people who have almost NO evidence that matches their claims. And when they stick their necks out and make a claim like the flagellum being irreducible complex they get TORN TO PIECES by the science.

There are hundreds of thousands of HARDCORE scientific, published, PEER REVIEWED papers on these topics that examine in great detail EVERY aspect we have the funds and time to investigate and they ALL align in one direction and it sure isn't Creation.

More importantly -- it is UTTERLY unimportant to me if evolutionary theory is correct or not -- science will progress, we observe, we learn more. Science has NOTHING to prove to me or you because it is YOUR OWN CLAIMS that are in question and YOUR CLAIMS are extremely lacking ANY evidence or support. I don't need science, or evolution, or abiogenesis, or physics, or the Big Bang, or ANYTHING else to REJECT your claims as ridiculous, unsupported, and UNdemonstrated.

And yes, I am 'angry' about the atrocities committed by the Christian churches over the years (and YOU should be too) -- the actions of individual Christians are on their own head -- but the church as a whole is responsible for actions commanded by the church leadership over the years in dogma, deed, Edict or order.

For just a FEW examples: Edict of Milan, Pope Innocent III said "the Jews, by their own guilt, are consigned to perpetual servitude because they crucified the Lord...As slaves rejected by God, in whose death they wickedly conspire, they shall by the effect of this very action, recognize themselves as the slaves of those whom Christ's death set free...", Roman Catholic Papal bull, "Cum nimis absurdum" which required Jews in Vatican controlled lands to wear badges, and be confined to ghettos, Catholic Christians who massacred of Jews in Nemirov, Polonnoye, Tulchin, Volhynia, Bar, Lvov, Crusades, Inquisitions, LIES about condoms in Africa resulting in massive unnecessary suffering and death, fighting against human rights (e.g., gay marriage), promoting poverty and suffering and the oppression of women, etc.

This is an off the cuff rant so I apologize for any errors in the text, feel free to note any corrections or make fun of me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dictionary Atheism

Two posts from PZMyers on his fantastic blog, Pharyngula, have the world of #atheism in a bit of a tizzy:
Which even got PZMyers named idiot of the week. Harsh.

This is a difficult issue to respond to because I think that PZMyers' post is more of a rant and seems to be conflating several issues together (namely "Why" someone might be an atheist, how atheism is defined, what it means to be an atheist in practical terms, and possibly pondering an atheistic philosophy/mindset). So I fear that I cannot really respond in full without misrepresenting PZ's position in some ways but I'll take a crack at it.

PZMyers writes:
You've got a discussion going, talking about why you're an atheist, or what atheism should mean to the community, or some such topic that is dealing with our ideas and society, and some smug wanker comes along and announces that "Atheism means you lack a belief in gods. Nothing more. Quit trying to add meaning to the term."
I can agree with that. PZ framed this in the context of discussing "why" and "community", etc. To just toss in a dictionary reference in that context is out of place. This is different from using a dictionary definition of atheism in order to specifically frame a discussion or debate. But if someone in that discussion says atheism means that you believe in evolution, I think it is fair to distinguish between the two. When people start making ridiculous claims like this is when I usually see people beating other people over the head with the dictionary.

PZMyers further writes:
there is more to my atheism than simple denial of one claim; it's actually based on a scientific attitude that values evidence and reason, that rejects claims resting solely on authority, and that encourages deeper exploration of the world. My atheism is not solely a negative claim about gods, but is based on a whole set of positive values that I will emphasize when talking about atheism. That denial of god thing? It's a consequence, not a cause.
Fair enough here as well. I would agree with PZ that, if I ask you "Why" you are an atheist and you could only quote the dictionary at me, I would think you pretty dense. But I have never seen anyone do that. All those things you said are great. But one could reject all the claims, be skeptical, be reasonable in all other ways--but still decide that they believed in a god anyway. They would then not be an atheist despite having an 'atheistic mindset' (my term) that you described. People can hold unreasonable and conflicting beliefs. So that is why atheism means that someone doesn't believe in a god and skepticism means something else and we use both terms. We don't add skepticism to atheism even when we base our atheism on skepticism.

I cannot tell if PZ would agree with that position or not from what he has written, so maybe he doesn't have a beef with that. I don't know.

PZMyers also argues that other people are NOT atheists just because they fit the dictionary definition. But even Christopher Hitchens, in a debate, argued "Everyone in this room is an atheist, everyone can name a God in which they do not believe" and the Romans called the Christians atheists because they lacked belief in the obviously real Roman gods. The use of atheist as a derogatory term has a long tradition.

But I tend to agree with PZMyers that for a truly meaningful application of atheist to apply, it really should be a self-applied label based on the formation of an opinion or position. I can call Christians atheists all day (and I sometimes do just to taunt them) but I don't really think they have that 'atheistic mindset'. And I don't think babies and rocks are atheists because I believe that it requires at least an opinion (and I'm not really sure I want my position to be equated to that of a non-thinking rock).

So I would say that all of these things tend to lead atheists to what might be called an atheistic philosophy/mindset - but it is not part of the definition of atheist/atheism itself nor required to have reached an atheist position.

But when Myers says "there is more to the practice of atheism than [the dictionary definition]", I find this phrasing just seems wrong to me. The phrase "practice of atheism" honestly brings absolutely nothing to my mind, it seems alien and out of place. There might be the practice of science, or the practice of skepticism, or the practice of textual criticism, or many other practices but what is the "practice of atheism"? Did I miss a memo? Was I supposed to sacrifice something? :)

Myers also writes, "Calling yourself a Dictionary Atheist is like taking pride in living an unexamined life...people who can't recognize that there's more to their atheism than blind acceptance of what a dictionary says". But nobody is leaving beliefs unexamined here. That just seems like an unreasoned attack because we are just discussing the actual definition and meaning of atheism -- not "Why" someone might be an atheist. To me those are two very different subjects.

On a side note, it looks like PZMyers has a new fan in @JoeCienkowski (one of the more 'interesting' theists on twitter):
@JoeCienkowski: @RockDots I found your strawmen. Beat the hay out them! "Some atheists define atheism as a lack of belief in gods" @GodsDontExist @pzmyers
@JoeCienkowski: @GodsDontExist @pzmyers seriously, are you dumb? Are you just too ignorant to reason?? You have a belief there's no God. It's that simple.